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Pradhan, Sonowal visit Baghjan disaster site

By Ron Duarah

TINSUKIA, June 14 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today visited the Baghjan area to take stock of the gas well blowout and assured all possible steps for the relief and rehabilitation of the affected people. Sonowal also announced a host of development schemes including construction of a dyke along the river Brahmaputra.

Sonowal and Pradhan visited the Dighaltarrang High School, where a disaster shelter has been set up with more than a thousand persons residing. The duo were accorded a traditional Moran community welcome. A list of �public demands� were read out to Sonowal and Pradhan. One of the demands said each of the affected families must be given Rs one lakh per month for the next 30 years. The demands were compiled and written into a memorandum by the Baghjan Milanjyoti Yuva Sangha, and signed by its president, Satyajit Moran and secretary Chitrajyoti Hazarika.

Speaking to the big crowd at the relief camp, Chief Minister Sonowal said he is constantly talking to the Petroleum Minister as well as the Prime Minister for a liberal relief package. He claimed that Prime Minister Modi is anguished at the oilfield disaster and that he has promised all possible help. Sonowal assured that anybody found guilty for the Baghjan disaster will not escape punishment, and reiterated that the Central Government and State Government inquiry committees will go to the root of the problem. He paid homage to Durlov Gogoi and Tikheswar Gohain, both of whom died on duty at the Baghjan oilwell earlier last week.

Sonowal then went on to make a slew of promises, purportedly for the development of the Baghjan area and its native residents. These include a dyke along the Brahmaputra at a cost of Rs 27 crore, a model hospital, a model veterinary hospital, a Higher Secondary School, and a smooth tar road to Tinsukia town.

He also promised to help the womenfolk set up self-help-groups, and the establishment of a Skill Development Centre. He then declared that the Maguri Beel will be developed into an international tourist spot.

Even as he was speaking, a couple of disgruntled persons were seen trying to obstruct Sonowal�s speech. As they could not be pacified, police and paramilitary personnel, who were present in large numbers, whisked them away from the meeting venue.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, speaking in Hindi, said the Central government is pained by the Baghjan oilwell disaster, and everyone in the country have their sympathies for the hundreds of affected families. He said the Centre will facilitate all possible rehabilitation measures for the locals of the area.

Oil India Limited today stated in its press handout that as of end of day production figure for 13/6/2020, the company suffered crude oil production loss of 509 metric tonnes and 0.65 MMSCM (6 lakh 50 thousand cubic metres) of natural gas as single day production loss due to various ongoing agitations at OIL installations in the Tinsukia district. The daily production loss is calculated from 28 oilwells, 4 gas wells and 26 associated gas wells. OIL has not named the agitators, but it is known that all OIL related work have been disrupted in the Tinsukia district after the Baghjan gas well went up in flames last Tuesday, at the call of the district AASU, ATTSA, and AASAA.

Meanwhile, the Asom Muttuck Yuva Federation today said in a statement that Sonowal�s declarations on relief and rehabilitation lack credibility. The Federation deplored that the Chief Minister offered nothing more than promises, and wanted that the State government should prove that it means what the Chief Minister said. The organisation asked Sonowal to spend more time among the distressed families and listen to each of them for their views on the situation at Baghjan.

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